Date published: October 1, 2010
FORGET THE SAW MOVIES. OR MUTANT zombies. Or killer fish, even if they are in three glorious, gory dimensions. The scariest films this year - and possibly in any other year - are Collapse and Countdown To Zero, two stripped-down, visually unappealing documentaries that together make the sort of double- wham my that'll send you packing 10 your iocal supermarket to stockpile on tinned food. To keep in your nuclear bunker.
If you want to be terrified to your very core, then these docs pack enough apocalypse anxiety Vo have even Roland Emmerieh reaching tor the hard stuff. Lucy Walker's Countdown To Zero tackles the ha If- forgotten spectre of nuclear holocaust. "There was a study showing that more Americans believed aliens would attack than a nuclear bomb would go off." shudders the London-born filmmaker. "It's crazy. There's North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, the spread of technology to make weapons..."
The message of the movie is clear: forget Skynet; humans are pretty handy at making a snafu all by themselves. "Doing 80 interviews for the movie, you get to see how big the threat is." producer Lawrence Bender tells Empire, "There's a lot of "Holy shit!1 moments in the movie."
As producer of An Inconvenient Truth and. for that mailer. Inglourious Basterds, you'd expeci Bender to know a 'Holy shit!' moment when he sees one. His director, though, stresses that the film is about much more than giving audiences a dose of radioactive collywobbles. "It's part of a global awareness campaign [to reduce nuclear missiles]," says Walker. "There's a lot of above-my-paygrade stuff going on with lhis movie - even Obama is quoting from il."
Collapse, meanwhile, focuses on a difieren t kind of fallout. Directed by the Wisconsin-born Chris Smith, the man behind inspired hillbilly doc American Movie, it's a mesmerising character study of Michael Ruppert. an ex-LAPD nares officer-turned-oneman think-tank, whose theory on the ramifications of the world's dwindling oil supplies could be the scariest thing Ulisside of a phone call from Mel Gibson. ''If any part of what Ruppcrt's saying is true, it calls into question lhe stability of civilisation," says Smith, "i came across things in the research that made me wake up at 2am and stare at the ceiling for three hours."
The insomnia is understandable, as Ruppcrl outlines a bleak vision of economic and social Armageddon. Smith, though, is keen to lei audiences make up their own minds. "Some people really subscribe to what lie has to say, others think he's a crackpot. We tried to create a Him that two people could watch and come away with opposite opinions."
So where does the director stand? "I have invested a little in gold, bul I haven't gone out and bought any seeds." he laughs. "Moving to a farm and becoming a survivalist isn't something that appeals to me al the moment..."
Collapse is out on October 1. Countdown To Zero is out on November 12.